tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 27, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
thank you. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. health warning. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews. leading off tonight, march mandate madness. did we get the first hint, perhaps, of where e supreme court may be headed on the individual mandate? the court plus justices a swing vote. anthony kennedy asked very tough questions of the administrator's lawyers today. that might mean that a bare majority of five justices do not find the mandate of the president's to be constitutional. meanwhile, mitt romney keeps running away, away from his signature achievement as massachusetts governor. health care reform and the individual mandate. tonight we've got the m.i.t. professor who advised both
president obama and mitt romney on health care, and he said, professor, they're the same bleeping bill. talk about stepping on your own message again. romney tried to take over the open mic moment but made a more damaging statement himself. that the russians are our number one the geopolitical faux. can you cool it with the evil empire talk, governor? and the latest information on the trayvon martin case. let's get everything we can tonight on the table. finally, let me finish tonight with mitt romney's declaration of hostility toward modern russia. we begin with day two at the supreme court. what a day. justice correspondent pete williams, was this a bad day at black rock for the president, to use an old movie title? >> a bad die at the day /* day at the white temple. >> yes, it wasn't a great day for the administration, chris. it's always risky to predict how
the court is going to vote based on how the argument goes because there is a lot that goes on once the gavel sounds on the argument the justices circulate opinions back and forth and things can shift. but the fact is that it's quite clear they didn't pick up any of the conservatives. there was some thought maybe they could get justice scalea who in the past has been willing to give a broad show of support. none of that today, he is a lost cause for the government. so the question comes down to judge kennedy. for most of the questioning today, he showed great skepticism. he said to the government at one point that this bill basically alters the relationship between the federal government and an individual and asked the government lawyer, doesn't that show you have a heavy burden? and for most of the argument there was no indication that he thought the government had met that burden. but at the very end of the argument, there may have been a glimmer of hope for the administration, because the government's argument here is in response to those who say, if the government can regulate this, then it can regulate anything.
and the conservatives said, can you require everybody to have a cell phone in case there was an emergency? or could you make everybody buy broccoli to become healthier? the government says what's different about the health care market is if you don't have insurance, when you show up at the emergency room, you will be treated and the cost of your care will be shifted to people who do have insurance. they say that's unlike any market. not true with cell phones, not true with food, and what justice kennedy says is maybe that's what makes this industry different, that the young person who doesn't have insurance is shifting the cost to others, and he says that's my concern. so those three words, that's my concern, may indicate that he is struggling with this and could perhaps try to write a decision if he's in the majority that would say, okay, this is a concern for us, but in the health care market only congress could do something like this. who knows? you know, that is a thin reed of hope for the government. but as you say, it was not a great day for them. there is no clear winner today.
>> and justice kennedy is the swing vote, we can be sure of that, based again on what you heard today in argument. >> it sure seemed that way. you know, there was some suggestion, perhaps, that chief justice john roberts was sympathetic to the government's argument. i certainly didn't read it that way. he seemed -- he did seem to be sort of an equal opportunity quizzer to both sides today, asking tough questions of both sides, but it seemed to me the thrust of his question was more skeptical of the government's argument than supportive. >> ironically, that building behind you never looked more beautiful than it does tonight. what a great picture. you ought to get it photographed. perhaps the biggest story from the supreme court in decades. here's an example of the tough questions the obama administration's lawyers got thrown at them today. this is justice anthony kennedy grilling senator jonathan barili who is defending the health care law of the president. let's listen. >> when you are changing the relation of the individual to
the government in this, what we can stipulate is i think a unique way, do you not have a heavy burden of justification to show authorization under the constitution? >> so two things about that, justice kennedy. first, we think this is regulation of people's participation in the health care market, and all -- all this minimum coverage provision does is say that instead of requiring insurance at the point of sale, that congress has the authority under the commerce power and the necessary proper power to ensure that people have insurance in advance of the point of sale because of the unique nature of this market. >> wow. we'll figure out what that means. the center for american progress, she is a senior adviser on health reform in the obama administration. bob is the attorney general of texas and one of the state attorney generals who brought this case against the government.
are you as concerned as i've just heard the report justifies it that this looks like kennedy is leaning toward the conservative position, perhaps ready to declare the original mandate of the president's bill unconstitutional? >> no. look, i expect justice to see ask tough questions of both sides, and in the appellate courts, conservative judges asked really tough questions of the government and then ruled in favor of the government, in favor of the original mandate. favor of the individual mandate. so i'm not surprised, and pete williams did talk about justice kennedy's remarks at the end where he did express that this is perhaps a unique market and came up with his own limiting principles. so i expected tough questions. i'm still confident we should win this case if the judges apply -- justices apply the previous precedent. >> attorney general abbott, thank you for joining us
tonight. let me ask you about the question of heavy burden. the justices seemed to believe that the question here is not just the extension or possible flexibility of the interstate commerce clause but more fundamental the inherent question of what our constitution is all about. talking about this would change the bill, this would change the basic relationship between government and citizen. is that your argument, that this is so fundamental it can't be done here under our constitution? this is really changing things in this country. >> that is the argument. that is why you see thousands of people gathered around the united states supreme court building protesting today, and for two years prior to today, because people realize this is a constitutional moment. this is exactly why the argument is lasting three days as opposed to one hour, and that's because this decision will determine whether or not congress has unlimited power or if it is limited by the united states constitution. that question that justice kennedy was raising was the point that never before in history has congress imposed a mandate that people go out and purchase something. the commerce clause has not been used in that way, and so the question the court raised today that the government was unable to answer is to establish that
line of demar cation that would limit this. >> here is justice kennedy pointing out forcing the mandate for people that might not do it on their own. let's listen to that. >> here the government is saying that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases and that changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in the very fundamental way. >> neera, just to make the argument, i'm not a lawyer, but i do study this like every american takes a look at it. they basically told you if you're going to open up a store, you can't open it up to just white people. even if you want to sell hamburgers just to white people, you can't do that. it did change decades ago the fundamental guidance of the government.
the government can tell you you have to sell to anybody walking in that door. isn't this finding a new area where it has to regulate commerce? >> that's exactly right. i would also add the issue about health care, health care is not like every other market. when you choose not to buy health insurance, we have laws in this country that is if you get in an accident, you have to be cared for. unlike every other market, i pay when someone else doesn't have health insurance and gets sick. that's what distinguishes this from every other single market. if it was a basic distinction, don virilli made this point, and i think justice kennedy heard that point because he made the point very clearly that young people not participating in health insurance drives up the cost for other people. that's unlike every other part of the market and i think that's the limiting principle the courts will find persuasive. >> you challenged the
government's lawyer about this law and the precedent that it would set. scalia made what he called the broccoli argument. here he is making it. let's listen. >> why do you define the market that broadly? health care. it may well be that everybody needs health care sooner or later, but not everybody needs a heart transplant, not everybody needs a liver transplant. >> that's correct, justice scalia, but you never know whether you're going to be that person. >> could you define the market -- everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market, tlvr you can make people buy broccoli. >> no, that's quite different. that's quite different. >> if you're taken to the hospital, you have doctors and administrators and all kinds of resources there for you, therefore, you're in that market whether you agreed to sign up for health care or not, and we're just regulating your role in that market.
>> the overall picture here is there are problems and challenges with regard to the structure of our health care system, but those problems and challenges aren't solved by imposing an unprecedented mandate on people having to go out and purchase a product. the very issue you're talking about was raised by one of the justices today, and that is couldn't you be forced to buy that product when you're there at the emergency room that would, of course, drive up the price of that product at that time, but that would be the penalty you pay for not having gotten insurance before that. but chris, i also -- chris -- >> i want to ask you a fundamental question. >> sure. >> who should pay for your health care if you refuse to do it? >> that is a policy and political question that is not a part of the constitution. we're involved in trying to make sure congress abides by the constitution. chris, i will admit that health care is a noble cause and providing health care is
essential in our country. however noble the cause may be does not mean congress has the ability to trample on the limitations imposed in the constitution. if the congress, as pointed out by the justice today, if congress is not limited by the clauses in the constitution, it will erode the constitution for all time. >> thank you for coming on. we're going to continue this debate here even as the court continues to rule in the next couple of weeks. coming up, he pioneered it in massachusetts, but mitt romney is the pioneer of the original mandate, and now he's running away from it as he's running for president. the economist who famously said romneycare and obamacare are the same thing. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. keep it clean. fortunately, you've got listerine.
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primary out again. the primary is next tuesday, and so far romney and the super pac has spent $3.1 million on tv ads there. rick santorum has kicked in about 340,000. that's it for him. it's a 10 to 1 advantage for romney and it's paying for him. he has a 1 to 8 lead for him. here's a sad fact about romney's super pac. so far his campaign has spent $35 million attacking gingrich and santorum rather than building up romney. it's all about destroying the other guys and it seems to be working quite well, if not for the republic, for romney. we'll be right back. [ artis brown ] america is facing some tough challenges right now.
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be one of the greatest ironies in the 2012 election. the politician who was one of the most persuasive advocates in health care is not the president of the united states, but rather his very likely republican opponent. mitt romney put in place a law in massachusetts that became the role model for the president's own law. but he's now one of the biggest critics of what's called obamacare, at least by his critics. jonathan gruber is a professor. he's ready to discuss the similarities and differences of the two plans. he advised both mitt romney and president obama on their health care laws. he's author of the book "health care reform." gentlemen, thank you for joining us. professor gruber, in any terms, layman's or expert's, is there any big difference between what romney did up in massachusetts and what the president has done
through his law nationwide? >> chris, there's not really a meaningful difference in the core of the plans. the basis of the national plan is what we did in massachusetts. just in how it's structured, you can see that. it's the same structure. and in the development of it, i can testify i was asked constantly, how did you do it in massachusetts? how did you make it work in massachusetts? the federal law is more ambitious in two ways. first of all, in massachusetts, mitt romney had a nice leg up because the feds paid for his bill. the federal government doesn't have that leg up. second, massachusetts did not try to take on cost control which the affordable care act does. >> it has to have cost control due to the fact it didn't have a revenue stream. one more question here. this difference, what is the fight about, then? is it just purely politics, professor? there is no substantive difference between what romney wanted to tell people, look, as he put it, 92% of the people in massachusetts have health care
insurance, the other 8 don't. i'm going to make sure the other 8 get it. >> you don't have to listen to my opinion, just do the logic on this. this was a republican idea. it was originally developed by conservative economists, and at the bill signing in 2006 when mitt romney proudly signed this law into place, on the podium was a speaker from the heritage foundation talking about what a great conservative law this was. all of a sudden, president obama, being pragmatic and smart about it, said, this is a good idea, let's adopt that, and suddenly it's the devil's work. i don't see how that can be anything but pure partisan politics. >> it reminds me of the song in the '30s. you say neither, i say neither. any time president obama calls for something, a pay reduction or something, it's not a good idea. you guys did it first, so we're going to try to call it unconstitutional.
even though it's a cannot conservative provision. >> here's four pages of talks from the romney campaign about obamacare. it doesn't mention at all the word mandate. in other words, mitt romney is totally glossing over the fact that the conceptual core of his plan and the president's plan is to require everybody to have insurance. it doesn't work, it doesn't pencil unless you require healthy, mostly younger people, to take part and spread the cause. it doesn't work. so conceptually they're the same, as the professor said, but mitt romney doesn't want to mention that and his talking points don't mention it. instead the romney talking points focus on the cost part, they focus on this alleged huge bureaucracy that's going to spend a lot of money, et cetera, because mitt romney doesn't want to admit that it was his plan and his advisers who generated the whole thing, and ironically, president obama, back when he was a candidate, was against the individual mandate for the same
neither/neither, tomato/tomato reason, hillary was for it. so yeah, it's another case of tomato/tomato politics, but this time between the parties instead of against the party. >> defending in court what he attacked as a candidate back in 2008. here's part of his argument. >> if a mandate was a solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house. the reason they don't have a house is because they don't have the money. our focus is on reducing costs, making it available. i'm confident if people have a chance to buy high-quality health care that's affordable, they will do so. >> a broken clock is right twice a day, you're never always right, and the guy who is always wrong is sometimes right. santorum says romney is the worst candidate to run against the president on the issue of health care because he invented t. do you think obama made a mistake putting racing stripes
on the same vehicle that came here from massachusetts and made it juiceier and more exciting than it was, more left wing than it was? professor? >> i think what president obama did, as he's done many times in his presidency, is do the right thing for policy reasons even if it's not necessarily the right thing for political reasons. we've seen this a number of times for challenges he's taken off. he saw what worked. that's the thing, when we do major changes in government, we rarely have the chance to run the experiment first. in this case we did. we ran the experiment in massachusetts. we covered two-thirds of our uninsured. we fixed a broken insurance market and cut premiums for individuals in half. for people who don't have insurance, premiums have fallen in half. president obama looked at this, said, this works. i think i'm wrong. i think a mandate is the way to go and he adopted that. i think he deserves praise for what he did. >> he also did it for two other reasons, chris.
i think one of them was personal and political in that a key moment in the obama presidential campaign, if not the pivotal moment, was when senators ted kennedy of massachusetts endorsed barack obama. >> sure was. >> and implicit in that was the promise which the president carried out, barack obama carried out as president, to push for health care reform. and this was the chosen path. don't forget that the president has chewed to the dismay of the agressors of otherwise own party what would basically be an extension of health care. he said, no, he was going the compromised route, the route that president kennedy had accepted. ted kennedy spent his whole career arguing for national health insurance. this is the result of that. >> professor gruber, i've got a curveball for you from left field. if the supreme court strikes down the original mandate which is the most conservative way to have national health for everybody, requiring people to take responsibility, if that
fails and the left of the democratic party says no, now is our chance to go for a single payer, which i guess is the same thing because there won't be a better option, really, is that a better economic condition that the government simply provides health insurance for the country? is that a better economic deal with no profit motive? >> i think that single payer, if you could start over, i think single payer is the lot to recommend, and we can't. the bottom line is -- >> we may have to after this ruling. >> if we start over, if this ruling goes against and the law fails, we'll see the same pattern we've seen in the past century. it will start over again, which on average will be 17 years from now, it's going to be further to the right of where we are. every 17 years -- remember, richard nixon proposed something to the left of the affordable care act. every 17 years remove to the right. if this fails, the next round is not going to be single payer,
it's going to be even more conservative than what we have now. >> what happens if in goes down and in june we have a ruling of the supreme court declaring the president's plan unconstitutional? >> i think the president is in a lose/lose situation here. if the law is upheld, it will double the fury of the republican right who will rally to say, there's only one way to change this law, the supreme court didn't do it, we have to change presidents to do it. i think if the law goes down, if the supreme court strikes it down, it will be a sign of futility on the president's part. the fact that he spent a year and a half or two years and all his political capital trying to get a bill passed that was found to be constitutionally flawed, it's unpopular politically. if you look at the polls, it's just not popular. and he's not going to spend july, august, september and october arguing against the supreme court if the supreme
court tears it down. it's a tough position for the president to be in. he might have done it for all the right reasons policywise and in terms of his relationship with ted kennedy, but politically, it's very, very tough. >> you're dead wrong, howard. it's a win/win for the president. i'm sorry, that's the way everybody talks today. you're probably right, howard. i was going to do the usual thing where you disagree with everybody. it was a sad commentary but probably a very accurate one. professor gruber, thanks so much. jonathan gruber from the best economics department in the country at m.i.t. and everybody knows he is trying to get into it. up next, how desperate is newt gingrich? well, the usual. his latest money-making scheme on the campaign trail. he's selling pictures of himself with you. would you like one? i think they're $5. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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if we lose this processing facility we could lose clientele because of increased mailing times. we would have to consider layoffs as a result of that. closure of this plant will affect all of us. ♪ back to "hardball." rick santorum went after hard new york times reporter jeff zelani. >> you said mitt romney is the worst republican in the country.
is that true? >> what speech did you listen to? stop lying. i said he was the worst republican to run on the issue of obamacare. to run against barack obama on the issue of healthcare because he fashioned the blueprint. i've been saying it in every speech. quit distorting our words. if i see it, it's [ bleep ]. >> not everybody thought that was a winning moment for the presidential candidate, but at least one person said he was right in that dispute. let's take a look. >> santorum's response in that liberal left is in the tank for the obama press character really revealed some of rick santorum's character. and it was good, and it was strong, and it was about time. when i heard rick santorum's response, i was like, well, welcome to my world, rick, and good for you. don't retreat. >> i wonder what she thinks of me. so what do you think of odds of
a romney/santorum ticket? what do you think -- here's what he said if he would accept an offer from the chief? >> would you consider it? >> i would do in this race, as i always say, this is the most important race in our country's history. so i'm going to do everything i can. >> you're keeping your options open. >> i'll do whatever is necessary to help our country. >> did you hear that little quiet. of course, period, he said right up front. one thing about rick santorum, he tells you what he's thinking. finally, desperation strikes. people who showed up to see mitt romney, i would say newt gingrich in delaware might have been a little thrown when he said this about a candidate posing with him for a quick photo. >> i think some programmers can get pictures made up here, but i want to come by here and say thank you. >> no program for you to get your picture taken with the candidate. what's that about? now you have to pay up. until recently there was no
charge for a picture with newt, but now it's 50 bucks a pop. madison already paid for a hundred thousand photos with his favorite candidate. up next we're going to have the latest information on the trayvon martin case. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] what can you do with plain white rice? when you pour chunky beef with country vegetables soup over it... you can do dinner. four minutes, around four bucks.
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evacuate. police in vermont confirm the body is that of 33-year-old melissa jenkins, prep school teacher who disappear ed. now now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." the miami herald is reporting new information about trayvon martin's school record, a record that includes three suspensions. a columnist for the "new york times" and a reporter for the "washington post." sherry, i was talking to you just a few moments ago. you've been doing hardnose reporting on this story. going through all the sources that have been reported, they've actually been covered in the various newspapers, including the orlando sentinel. where is the hard news coming out of regarding the exact incident that occurred a month ago that led to the death of trayvon martin? >> chris, what we're seeing is the narrative of this story is shifting. what we're finding out, because a police report has been leaked
yesterday to the orlando sentinel, we're hearing george zimmerman's version of events that night. what he said was, in fact, trayvon martin attacked him, that he was following him, he lost him, he turned, he was going back to his car, and then trayvon came up from behind him. there were words between them. he said, do you have a problem with me? and zimmerman said, no, well you do now. he punched him in the nose, jumped on top of him, slammed his head on the sidewalk, and zimmerman said he feared for his life which is why he shot. >> so this is a report by police based on the testimony of the assailant in this case, the shooter, if you will. >> this was his statement on the night of the arrest, and that is what has leaked out. >> what about, was there an eyewitness at all to this account? was there anyone who corroborated that statement that you just gave us from the police? >> you know, an eyewitness came forward today to a local
television station in florida, a man who said he saw someone on the ground wearing red and someone on top of him and the man was yelling. well, that night zimmerman was wearing red, so that does sort of corroborate zimmerman's account. >> who was on top and who was yelling? >> what this eyewitness says was he heard the man who was on the ground screaming for help. and that would have been zimmerman because he said the man was wearing red. >> one other bit of information you let me know came out actually from abc news this afternoon, that is that the chief detective, the homicide detective in this case wanted to bring manslaughter charges against mr. zimmerman. how does that fit with what you've told me? >> on the night of the arrest, when zimmerman gave this statement, the lead homicide investigator for the orlando police department didn't buy it, he didn't buy zimmerman's version. he wanted to press manslaughter charges. he was overruled by the state's attorney in that case who says he did not think there was evidence. so the lead homicide investigator wrote up an affidavit. this was reported by abc news
today saying he thought charges should have been brought in this case and he didn't believe zimmerman's account. >> are we going to be able to get any expertise on the sound that was picked up by the 911 callers about the call for help, whether it was zimmerman or mr. martin? >> chris, that's a very good question. the news prosecutor on the case said she told me today she's bringing in independent audio forensic experts to analyze the 911 calls -- there were eight of them -- from people who called in, and you can hear loud screaming in the background, someone screaming for help, but it's unclear, is it trayvon or is it zimmerman, and they're going to try to figure that out. >> you may be offering, i think, a pretty balanced look at this. it seems to me this is the problem. we know there is a stand your ground law. we know at some point there was a fight. we've got so much evidence, there must have been a fight. do we know words were exchanged? there was attitude on both sides. we know they ended up fighting.
the gist so far suggests that mr. martin was on top and winning the fight. the question is -- if, if, if, of course, we're not trying it -- is there any point at which a guy says, okay, i started to fight, i said terrible things, he got mad at me, he started throwing some blows, i threw some blows back. he was better at the fight. this is a problem with the law, it seems to me. maybe not the justice under the law but the law itself. if you have a stand your ground law and a guy is on top of you and he's pounding your head or whatever he's doing, you pull the gun and kill the guy. most people would say that's an extraordinary thing to do and it may be a manslaughter charge. now we have conflicting judgment at the scene, which is interesting. >> the question is, who was standing whose ground? is trayvon the person who should be covered on the florida stand your ground law, because a strange man with a gun followed, and in some cases, by some accounts, chased him to the point that he came within arm's reach of him.
and he felt threatened for his life and struck out. if, in fact, he was the person who initiated the encounter. or did zimmerman do all those things and then initiate a physical encounter with trayvon? so we don't know the answer to that question. but who is covered by stand your ground is a crucial question in this case. >> let me ask you about this. sorry, i don't know if you're equipped to answer this, but it seems like we know, from everything we've seen, the only reason zimmerman was there was some kind of neighborhood watch there, whether it was official or not, we know he was there, so the circumstances are he was responsible for it. the encounter of who talked to who first, the other guy brought himself to the presence of the other person, that's also an encounter. then there's the question of who took the first punch? who threw the first punch? then there's the question of whether in any reasonable way he felt his life was in danger or he's facing a concussion or something? these are all factors, but how do you get to them unless you
bring a charge? >> that's a good point, but under the florida stand your ground laws, the police said they couldn't make an arrest. now, the state's special prosecutor is looking at this, and she may have a grand jury. charles made a very good point about these two different versions and the problem is we have zimmerman's version but we'll never have trayvon's version. >> that's the case with any case where someone is killed. that is a problem where you have an assailant and you have a defendant in a case that could be capital manslaughter, it is the horror of killing somebody, you're there afterwards. >> exactly. and what's happened today is we're seeing leaks of information about trayvon, as you brought up, the suspensions in school, that really have nothing to do with the incident. but people are trying to paint a portrait, a fuller portrait of him, but it's sort of very much angering the parents because it has nothing to do with the
incident. >> can you tell me as a reporter -- i want to you respond to this -- the police. i know all good reporters, including charles, you have to go out and trust your sources. in the end you have a tradecraft. you have to go around, bounce them off against each other, try to find a way to get to the truth. is it your sense as a reporter, what is the angle of the police? are they playing defense here? do they feel scared? are they really trying to get information out for the public good? how would weigh it? or is that a naive question? >> well, the police are no longer in this case. they've been taken out of the case. the case has been given to the special prosecutor. the police chief was basically ousted and put on a temporary leave. so they're not really involved in the case anymore. and yesterday they had an extraordinary press conference where they said the information that was leaked was accurate, it was an unauthorized leak, but it was accurate. >> i want to turn this over to charles now. your judgment. i fear this will be a racial issue in this country where everybody comes with their baggage.
that baggage is racial, and it doesn't lead to a common view of things. i wish there was a scientist who could reenact this thing for us all. we won't get that scientist. >> no, we will not. >> so there are empty moments we have to figure out things. >> this is a classic case if you have to consider the source, which means not only is george zimmerman under investigation, the sanford police department is under investigation, and they have to kind of cover their backsides to make sure that they have done the right thing. >> who are involved? >> the feds are involved now and you will have a grand jury. but always when the sanford police are speaking, and they continue to come out and issue statements that say, okay, this is accurate, this is what has happened, this is what george zimmerman has said, the fact that you continue to make public statements means that you are an active member of this investigation, because you
are -- you know, it's not -- it's kind of influencing the jury pool. every time that you add weight to something that zimmerman has said, if you're not in it, stay out of it until the investigation is done. if you want to start issuing statements, for instance, there was a woman early on, mrs. kutcher, who came out and said, i had information. police did not consult me or take my testimony, they came out, issued a statement saying, she's not telling the truth. it does not corroborate with zimmerman's account. who does that? when you're in the middle of an investigation, that doesn't happen. >> this is going to be a tough situation no matter what happens. i just met you today. you were very helpful in our reporting. thank you both. up next, mitt romney hoped to exploit president obama's open mic moment with the president of russia, but once again mitt stepped in it calling russia our number one geopolitical enemy. is romney running for president in 2012 or 1952? this is "hardball" only on msnbc.
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we're back. it was a moment mitt romney probably thought he could use to his advantage, the president caught on an open mike telling russian president to give him space. once again romney stepped on his own message. here is romney yesterday on cnn trying to capitalize on the president's remarks. let's watch. >> if he's planning on doing more and suggest to russia that he has things he's willing to do with them, he's not willing to tell the american people, this is our go political foe. they fight every cause for the world's worst actors. >> i don't know what decade this guy is living. it sounds like 1972, 52. it's not stalin over there.
>> it's not the cuban missile crisis. >> is he trying to play ronald reagan here or what? what's he up to? >> this is mitt romney's severely conservative problem. he struggles so hard to be persuasive to make a case against obama that he always ends up jumping the shark saying something that is completely off key and not credible. it's no great surprise that he was going to try to take advantage of this to criticize president obama. he was hoping no doubt that this would have the same effect against president obama that his aids message of calling mitt romney is etch a sketch candidate would on him, but it didn't work. it made romney look dumb. he's not a dumb man but he said something that's clearly dumb.
>> that's argumentative on your part. we got mixed views but he seemed so witty about his response. this is not the mid-1970s anymore. this is the 21st century mr. romney. >> yeah. it does provide a window into how mitt romney looks at some of the g.o. political problems we faced. across the board it's always toward more militancy. it's not something that's been hidden from romney's policy platform. the problem is it's a much more come p complicated situation than it's been. >> sounds like the old -- >> his statement deeply
complicates the russian relationship. >> he was caught off base here. here is speaker john boehner when asked about romney's remarks, he didn't defend him. he cut him off. >> clearly the president overseas, he's at a conference and while the president is overseas, i think it's appropriate that people not be critical of him or of our country. >> is that a criticism of mr. romney by saying i wouldn't criticize the president when he's overseas? >> you bet it is. i thought that what john boehner said and did not say spoke volumes. not only did he not defend mitt romney, he criticized him. he rebuked him. let's lever this alone because what romney had said was indefensible. we need russia. we need russia at the table to help us with our real g.o.
political enemies. how about iran. we need russia if we're going to confront iran. we need russia on north korea. to call them our number one g.o. political enny. who attacked us on 9/11 by the way was so far off key that it makes romney seem dumb. >> thank you. i am worried about what it says to the russian people that they think we don't like them. what's the point that we think of them as our enemy. that's making trouble. let me finish with mitt romney. i got some thoughts about this guy and his declaration of hostility toward modern russia. very strange.
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there's a catch? there's no catch. nothing but savings. thank you very much. absolutely. you have a great day. you, too. you're sexy. [ laughs ] let me finish tonight with this. it's one thing to jump on the president when he's over seas representing our country, it's another thing to look bad in the process. case in point, mitt romney. you would think hooeds play it a little more careful. not this guy. when president obama was overheard saying he would have more flexibility in negotiating missile defense after this coming election, romney pounced. he added this little sugar plum. he called russia, without question our number one g.o.
political foe. our number one g.o. political foe. well, the president grabbed the high ground here. he dismissed romney's line as a cliche and said use your head and look at your watch. we're in 2012 and not the mid-70s. good for him. i'm glad the russian president has a sense of humor and a sense of balance, neither which romney seems to have. those that grew up in the cold war is glad it's over. we're glad ronald reagan recognized the soviet leader who is not one of the communist robots and we're glad with all differences we have with modern russia we're not in the cold war with them anymore. mr. romney should write that down in his candidate's copy book, take it to heart and be careful now that he's on the big kids